Archives for February 2014

What Is a Quick Question?

At Author Planet®, we offer free answers to your straightforward publishing-related questions. Send us a question we can answer in around 50 words. (We often write more than 50 words, but it’s a place to start.) When you send us your question, you’re giving us permission to run it on our website and blog, and in other promotional materials if we feel the exchange may be of interest to others (we’ll remove your identifying information). Some examples of quick questions:

  • “Hi! What do you think of the first line of my query letter?”
  • “Two agents asked to see my manuscript on the SAME DAY! What should I do?”
  • “Do you know any great book cover designers personally?”
  • “Hi there! What’s the difference between ‘counsel’ and ‘council’?
  • “Dear Author Planet, should I submit to agents who aren’t in the AAR?”

Ask away!

Do I Need an Agent?

publishing questionsQ: Do I need an agent to get published by a traditional publishing house?

A: Depends on how you define “traditional publishing house.”

If you want to be published by a major publisher (the “Big Five” in New York: The Penguin/Random Group, Hachette, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins & Macmillan; or other large independent houses such as WW Norton, Perseus, Chronicle Books and more) yes, you must have an agent. A way to judge: go to your local bookstore (a real one, not a virtual one.) Most publishers with many books sold through bookstores required agented submissions. (Don’t look on the spines, by the way—look on the copyright page. Each of the publishers I mention above is a conglomeration of many “imprints” that each once were independently owned publishing companies. So you’ll see “Crown” or Knopf or Doubleday or Bantam or Viking on a spine—they’re all now Penguin/Random.)

But “traditional houses” include any company that is selective in its output and doesn’t expect money from you to publish your book (or doesn’t expect you to fund the publication in some other sneaky way, like contracting to purchase 500 copies.)

University presses, small literary presses, specialty publishers all would be considered “traditional,” but may be willing to review your unagented submission. How to tell? Don’t query blindly, check them out one-by-one on their websites. Submission policies are always listed at reputable places.

What a Sentence Can Do: James Altucher

Sidetracked by a perfect paragraph. Doesn’t happen often.

I run into lots of people dying to know how to get famous and sell books. Lots of other people, including me, earn a living by advising said people. The truth: you can’t get famous through a formula. Social media fame comes from writing really engaging stuff in an authentic voice. Words that surprise, ideas that contradict and twist and grab.

Today, killing time before the Broncos game (known to some as the Superbowl), I jumped on Quora to find an answer to a software question. They made me click on categories & read an article to join the club (a hook I found both admirable and annoying). I read this article by James Altucher because it had a cartoon at the top that reminded me of one my son drew for me.

Skimmed it just to fulfill my “I read it” obligation. Woah…put on the brakes at “have sex more [Read more…]

2014 San Francisco Writers Conference

SFWC logoI’m gearing up for this year’s San Francisco Writers Conference Feb. 13th-17th at the Mark Hopkins Hotel—and getting psyched! It’s the only writers conference I attend each year (besides BEA). It’s classy and conscientious. SFWC  includes esoteric stuff like poetry jams and panels on using writing to make the world a better place—along with great practical panels and big name presenters. I love that about it!

Here’s a PDF of the official conference flier: 2014 SFWC Flyer

The conference provides insight and guidance for traditional, self-published, and aspiring writers.

You can attend the conference as a whole (learn more here), or purchase one or more of the pre- and post-conference workshops separately, or both.

I’m teaching: [Read more…]